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Fototertúlia (PhotoTalk) Exhuming the teacher who promised the sea, by Sergi Bernal

June 3 - 18:30 - 19:30


Dear friends,

We announce that the next Fototertúlia will take place next Monday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m. in Pati Llimona. On this occasion, the session will be led by Sergi Bernal. It is entitled “EXHUMING THE MASTER WHO PROMISED THE SEA“.

The session will be recorded on video.

See you there!

At the end of July 1936, right at the beginning of the Civil War, the Catalan master Antoni Benaiges disappeared. Two years earlier he had arrived in the town of Bañuelos de Bureba in Burgos ready to apply the Freinet technique to his small rural school, an innovative pedagogical methodology, from France, based on the participation of students and the use of printing.

For more than 75 years, the work and personality of the master remained in the intimacy of the memory of his former students, his professional colleagues and the family who also retained the desire to know the truth about his disappearance.

In August 2010, on the occasion of the exhumation of a mass grave in the area of La Pedraja (Burgos), a witness brought up the figure of the master murdered in July 1936 at the foot of the grave, saying: “Here está enterrado el maestro de mi pueblo.” Documentarily covering the exhumation work was a Catalan photographer, who was informed of the passing of the witness saying to her, “They say that in this pit there is a paisano tuyo, a Catalan maestro.”

This photographer will begin an obsessive investigation to reconstruct the life of the teacher from Mont-roig, interviewing relatives, former students and compiling an archive scattered in education magazines from the 1930s, press and archival collections. That photographer was me.

The girls and boys of Bañuelos de Bureba had never seen the sea and in January 1936 their teacher encouraged them to imagine it and describe it. The result was a monographic notebook on the blue immensity. “The sea will be very big, very wide and very deep.” This is how one of the children in this town of Burgos imagined the sea. The descriptions were repeated: “The sea will be… The sea will be…”.

The teacher Antoni Benaiges, who revolutionized his school by giving the floor to his students with the help of the Freinet printing house, promised them that in the summer they would go to Mont-roig del Camp to his family’s house to see him for the first time and being able to say: “The sea is… The sea is…”.

But the dream of those creatures and the promise of their master were cut short forever on July 19, 1936 with the outbreak of the Civil War.

135 murdered republicans were exhumed from the Pedraja graves. Due to the poor condition of the remains, only 26 reprisal victims have been identified, none of them being Master Benaiges.

This project collects the story of a promise that could not be fulfilled, and with it, the memory of the person who made it: Antoni Benaiges, master who promised the sea.

The remains of the La Pedraja graves were not identified, but I am sure of one thing: there we managed to exhume their memory and thanks to the efforts of many, we have repaired an oblivion.


June 3
18:30 - 19:30
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Centre Cívic del Pati Llimona de Barcelona
Carrer del Regomir, 3
Barcelona, 08002
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